Objectives: Interferon treatment for chronic viral hepatitis C (HCV) has been associated with the development of retinopathy in 19% to 29% of adults. Our purpose is to describe the ophthalmologic complications of pegylated interferon-alpha2a with either placebo or ribavirin in children with chronic HCV (the PEDS-C trial).
Materials and methods: Prospective, comprehensive ophthalmologic examinations including slit lamp at enrollment and after 24 and 48 weeks of treatment of 114 children participating in a randomized clinical trial.
Results: One hundred and twenty-eight children were screened for entry, of whom 123 had an eye examination and no child had existing retinal disease. One hundred fourteen children were eligible and were treated. One hundred ten children had an eye examination at 24 weeks and 103 children at 48 weeks. Three of 114 subjects (2.6%) developed documented (n = 2) or possible (1) serious eye complications. One subject developed evidence of ischemic retinopathy (cotton-wool spots) by week 24, 1 developed uveitis by week 48, and 1 reported at week 48 transient (<4 hours) monocular blindness that had occurred at week 36 with a subsequent normal examination at week 48.
Conclusions: Ophthalmologic complications are infrequent in children who are treated with pegylated interferon-alpha2a for HCV (2%-3%). Because of the potential severity of ischemic retinopathy and uveitis, prospective ocular assessment should remain part of the monitoring strategy for children who are treated with interferon for HCV.